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Celebrate and Elevate Who You Are and Why You Exist! Values, Vision, and Mission

Part 2 of our 4-part series on Strategic Planning in a Rapidly Changing Environment

Co-authored by Galen Ellis and Selma Abinader (www.abinadergroup.com)

Did you catch last month’s article on why we recommend the Strategic Framework planning over traditional Strategic Planning? In it we provided an overall summary of how the Strategic Framework provides more flexibility in an environment that is always changing, and we outlined its essential components. To review first article of this series, click here.

What follows are some tips on how to craft your Mission, Vision, and Values statements so that they guide your organization’s work in ways that both promote growth and expansion, as well as provide clarity about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Having these statements articulated is essential before making decisions on Strategic Directions, which we will discuss in Part 4 of this series.

Here are some basic definitions of these three statements:

Mission: An organization or group’s core purpose; what the organization or group does, for whom, and why.

Vision: A statement of what is possible, the picture of the ideal future that an organization or group wants to realize.

Values: Principles, beliefs and assumptions that underlie and guide the organization or group.


Let’s start with the Vision and Mission Statements, which describe where we are headed and what we will do to get there.

A Mission review gets an organization back to basics; their core purpose. When facilitating group efforts to define or update their Mission statement, we build consensus by first asking participants to respond to the following questions individually and then in small groups.

1. What are the primary needs we exist to fill or address?

2. What is our role in filling these needs or addressing these problems? How does it differ from the roles of other organizations?

3. What do we want to do to recognize or anticipate and respond to these needs or problems? What is our core purpose?

Your group’s Vision should convey the larger sense of your group’s purpose. Having a vision helps stakeholders see themselves as building a castle rather than laying stones. To create a Vision Statement, we often use a guided visualization exercise to direct the group’s thinking and imagining of the best possible future state five to ten years out as a result of their efforts. After processing and sharing what they discovered, we use a variety of workshop tools to help them develop their final statements.

Due to the daily pressures of running an organization, it is rare for a group to take the time to define HOW they will do the work they do. But the only way to create the amazing future reflected in your vision is to carry out your group’s mission in a way that reflects shared values. The consensus building process that we use to develop a group’s values, builds unity and common identity among stakeholders. The Values Statement tells the world the SHARED principles, beliefs and assumptions that underlie your work. Values reflect the HOW of your organizational activities, choices and decisions and governance tools that:

Serve as a screen to determine the worthiness, appropriateness, and alignment of all operations;

Provide a framework for developing policies and procedures, program approaches, communications, and fund development strategies; and

Assess whether potential new staff or board members align with organizational values


Using a consensus workshop, we pull together individual values to define the shared values of the organization (sometimes called guiding principles). Click here to watch a short demo of a consensus workshop in action. The results of the process might look something like our very own core values listed here, on our website.

Please read our next blog where we will share some tips and tricks for conducting an Environmental Scan. We will discuss some common, and not so common, sources of data to assess the forces that are helping and the forces that are hindering your ability to achieve your Vision. By identifying these forces, organizations can make quality decisions on their Strategic Directions, or Focus Areas (Part 4 of this series).



Part 3:The Environmental Scan: Using Informed Insight to Manifest Your Vision

Part 4: Doing What You Do Best: Wise Selection of Strategic Directions

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